What’s It Like to Be An American?
I can only speak for myself in this case, but I have a unique perspective on my native land. Having lived for over seven decades, I have seen the changes in our country over the years.
I have seen a president assassinated, a presidential candidate assassinated and a civil rights leader assassinated.
I lived during a time when 130,000 Japanese, some native born American citizens, were held against their will in interment camps with the blessing of the United States Supreme Court.
Going to school in Texas in the 60s, I saw separate drinking fountains, segregated movie houses and drive-ins, while attending an all-white college.
People were killed for trying to register black voters.
The first 20 years of my life we were at war with someone somewhere.
I lived in a time when there was no drug use, no rock n' roll. Few people had TVs. There were only 16 baseball teams. only one west of the Mississippi River, drive-in movies, and no freeways.
If you wanted to drive cross-country you took Route 66.
No franchises, no “big box stores,” no fast food, and no pizza parlors.
It was almost unheard of for wives to work. That would have meant the man of the house was unable to provide for his family. The shame.
If you pulled into a gas station two or three people would come out and check your oil, check the air in your tires, clean your windshield and fill your tank.
American is Self Correcting
Younger people living today could hardly imagine living in the same America I lived in and calling it America.
In many ways it was a much simpler life. No 24/7 news, internet, or computers. People got all the news they needed at 6 p.m. from, “the most trusted man in America,” Walter Cronkite.
As children we actually played outside with other neighborhood kids rather than endless hours of video games alone.
Divorce was a rarity. In the 12 years I attended school, I did not know a single student whose parents were divorced. People took their vows seriously back then.
We weren’t passed though from class to class. Kids repeated grades if they failed. There was no such thing as, “everyone gets a trophy.” And, the teachers graded with red pens.
Some Final Thoughts
America corrected slavery, the woman’s right to vote, and school segregation. We have always been a self-correcting nation.
Yet, in the 1850s the US Supreme Court declared that certain types of human beings were property.
We have always been a nation in flux. The ability to be free allows for the rights of all to be protected. Few people on this planet have that protection.
While it’s a very thin line between the American dream and the American nightmare, the good news is — no matter what your situation happens to be it’s always possible to cross over the line to the dream side.